Thursday, June 21, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater police make arrest in 2008 slaying of taxi driver

CLEARWATER — Detectives have arrested a man in connection with the killing of a Clearwater taxicab driver shot dead nearly five years ago, police announced Friday.

On Sept. 17, 2008, Yellow Cab driver Jack LaGrand, 50, picked up a customer at Fat Daddy's, a Dunedin bar. Police later found LaGrand slain inside his cab behind a shopping center at U.S. 19 and Enterprise Road.

After his death, detectives used billboard campaigns and distributed fliers to garner leads in the case. Last year, surveillance video from Fat Daddy's was enhanced, leading to a sharper picture of the suspect, who wore a shirt adorned with roses and skulls the night LaGrand was killed.

About two months ago, detectives got a break in the case.

A witness came forward and identified Tisen KaShawn Washington, 24, of Port Richey as the killer, said Clearwater police Maj. Donald Hall at a news conference Friday morning. The motive appears to have been robbery, since detectives found no money inside the cab.

Washington, already being held at the Pasco County jail on drug-related charges including possession and sale of cocaine, was interviewed by detectives. A first-degree murder warrant for Washington has been issued, Hall said.

Washington told detectives he remembers going to Fat Daddy's and asking the bartender to call a cab for him. He recognized LaGrand when detectives showed him a photo, but he denied killing him, police said.

In Florida, Washington has been arrested in the past on charges including drug-related offenses and felony possession of a firearm, records show.

LaGrand's wife, Donna, stood by detectives as they talked about her husband's death. She declined to answer questions Friday but released a statement.

"After five long years, the man who committed this senseless act will be brought to justice," the statement read. "To those families facing similar circumstances, never give up hope."

In the Clearwater police station lobby, a banner is displayed with about 30 photographs of homicide victims from years past. On Friday, detectives placed a sticker reading "solved" atop LaGrand's photo.

"It feels good. It's important to be able to go to the family and be able to tell them and give them that closure," said homicide Detective Thomas Dawe. "Being able to resolve this is important to all of us."

Times staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

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